Verbund’s EKG Stake Attracts Interest From Austria’s Kelag

Verbund AG, Austria’s biggest utility, attracted interest in its 49 percent stake in provincial utility Energie Klagenfurt from Kaerntner Elektrizitaets-Aktiengesellschaft, or Kelag.

“If the city and Verbund agree, we’d like to get involved in EKG,” Kelag board member Hermann Egger told Kleine Zeitung today, in comments confirmed by his spokesman, Josef Stocker.

The City of Klagenfurt, in Austria’s Carinthia province, holds 51 percent of EKG via Stadtwerke Klagenfurt, after Verbund acquired the rest for 130 million euros ($159 million) in 2005. Verbund, now in the middle of a 700 million-euro divestment plan, has written down the value of the company on its balance sheet to 80 million euros, according to Kleine Zeitung.

“If we get an offer, we will look at it,” Beate McGinn, a spokeswoman at Verbund, said by phone from Vienna. The utility is also a co-owner of Kelag, with Carinthia province and RWE AG.

EKG’s plans to build a combined-cycle gas turbine plant in Ebenthal were rejected on environmental grounds this year. It now has to find an alternative way to provide district heating, a challenge that may prompt Verbund to sell its stake to Kelag, said Harald Raffer, a spokesman for Stadtwerke Klagenfurt. That scenario is only one of several possibilities, he said.

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